Weight Gain Risk Deters Some Smokers From Quitting


The risk of weight gain may deter some smokers from seeking treatment to quit, according to a recent study.

Researchers from Penn State College of Medicine found that smokers may avoid treatment to quit smoking if they previously gained weight while trying to quit.

"Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that smokers who gained weight previously are 'once bitten, twice shy,'" Susan Veldheer, study author and project manager in the Department of Public Health Sciences, said in a statement. "They are concerned about weight gain if they attempt to quit even though they may know the benefits of quitting."

Weight gain is a predictable occurrence for smokers who have recently quit. Within the first year after quitting, they usually gain an average of eight to14 pounds, and some smokers report that they keep smoking simply because they do not want to gain weight from quitting, researchers said.

For the study, researchers surveyed186 smokers who sought treatment to quit and 102 smokers who avoided treatment. All participants were asked about weight gain during past attempts to quit and their concern for gaining weight after quitting in the future.

Of all the participants, 53 percent had gained weight during a previous attempt to quit smoking. Within this subgroup, smokers who were highly concerned about gaining weight were more likely to avoid treatment to help them quit.

Researchers found that smokers who sought treatment to quit were equally concerned about gaining weight as the smokers who avoided treatment. The difference was in whether or not the smokers had gained weight before.

Researchers suggest that clinicians should ask smokers if they had previously gained weight while trying to quit. If so, these smokers should be assured that strategies to maintain weight will be addressed in treatment.

These findings appeared in The International Journal of Clinical Practice.

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